I have a fairly nice synth workstation.

Well, it’s alright. I like that I can load DX7 patches in it. It has some convenient knobs and serves as an audio interface and midi controller. It does everything just well enough that when I contemplate selling it for a different solution[1] I’m restrained by the fear of seller’s remorse.

One of the things it does ok is piano sounds. They’re good for quick, immediate auditioning of ideas[2], and bad for recording a decently-accurate piano. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, but when I try and record a superlative performance I come up disappointed.

After some years of saving[3] I realized my dream of owning a baby grand piano, and I think it has a really warm, lovely tone. (My piano tuner agrees with me.) Wouldn’t it be nice if I could somehow record an actual piano rather than settling for a digital facsimile?

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It has been over six years since I produced a piece of music.

The last piece, “Meaning”…well, what can I say for it. I think it has good bones; I basically like the musical structure and melody. I’m a big fan of some of the synths. But the mixing misses the mark.

What’s worse, the whole thing caused a massive creative burnout.

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Arctis Pro Wireless Promotional
Somehow I stumbled into an obsession with headsets. Specifically gaming headsets. I’ve owned probably a dozen. The intent of this post is not to examine my problem, but I’m acknowledging it. The upshot of my semi-exhaustive survey of headsets is that I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes for a good headset. Now I invite you–willingly or not–into my world.

My latest acquisition is the Arctis Pro Wireless premium gaming headset by Steelseries. It makes sound and has a (retractable!) boom microphone. It connects to my PS4. But the luxuries are where it starts to distinguish itself from the pack…

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Shea rocks out.

Literally the best photoshop I've ever done. Err, I mean, what photoshop? That dog is totally wearing those headphones.

As mentioned elsewhere, I use Hexo as my static site framework. It does most of what I want out of the box, and it has plugins for most everything else.

On my homepage I’ve embedded the SoundCloud widget in a Bootstrap flexbox. But it would be nice to put audio directly into a blog post as well, without too much hacking. Fortunately, Hexo has plenty of audio plugins available, and in less time than it took to write this post I added a couple.

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I am weirdly fussy about note-taking apps. My requirements are…quirky.

Hard Requirements:

  • Be usable in half a 12-inch MacBook’s worth of screen real estate, without being squashed
  • Have both native macOS and iOS applications
  • Have first-class Markdown support
  • Sync to the cloud


  • Apple Pencil support
  • Account switching so I can use the same app for personal and work without worrying about cross-contamination
  • Provide shareable URLs (either public, or be able to grant permissions to other users)

I have experimented with no fewer than five note-taking apps: Notes, OneNote, Evernote, Agenda…

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Find the patch you want.

An online resource like Bobby Blues Yamaha DX7 soundbanks can help with this. You can, for instance, download a zip of the ROM that shipped with the DX7.


Once you have the .syx (Sysex) file containing the patch(es) you want, drag-and-drop it onto Yamaha’s FM Converter.

It will show a list of the available patches in the left column, and you can select the ones you’re interested in.

Click CONVERT and download the converted file to your computer.


Unzip the file you downloaded. Rename the .x7l file to what you with the Bank name to be, then copy to a USB flash drive that has been formatted for use on the MODX.


  1. Plug in the USB flashdrive… [1]
  2. Click UTILITY.
  3. Switch to the Contents->Load tab.
  4. Tap on the usb device.
  5. Tap on the library bank name.

Congratulations! You just loaded a DX7 ROM onto a MODX. To find your new patches, click CATEGORY, tap on Bank/Favorite, and select the new bank. You can now browse all the glorious DX7 patches and process them with the powerful layering and effects of the MODX.

Some Concluding Thoughts

The MODX restricts user libraries to eight; this is almost certainly a limitation due to the bank select UI space and not system memory (an entire DX7 ROM takes only a fraction of a percent of the available user memory on the MODX). To get around this I suggest copying multiple .syx files to the FM Converter. For instance, I grabbed all the DX7 Yamaha official ROMS and converted them to a single .x7l (Montage) lib file. Now I have one gigantic Bank of DX7 patches, and still seven free additional available library slots.

I am super jazzed to finally be able to import DX7 patches onto a modern Yamaha synth! With that said, I do think they could streamline the process, either by adding the capability to MODX Connect or building it into [2]

Who knows what software (both cloud and firmware) features are coming our way in the future. For now I am eager to play with a literal billion DX7 sounds.

  1. Keeping the back of your synth accessible, or using a USB extension cable, makes this process much easier. ↩︎

  2. If there is a way already, I’d love to hear it! If you know of one tweet me at @skrvnmusic and I’ll update this guide accordingly. ↩︎

At some point the tabs in my browser reach critical mass:


And I asked myself, “How can I live this way? Am I a tab hoarder?” That’s when the despair hits. What can I do about this? Am I beholden to forever live with these tabs, hopelessly trying to dig out my social media from a stack of Stack Overflows?

I still struggle with my tabs; I’m not perfect. But I have found relief with a few key strategies for tab management.

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My wife created a lovely website for herself using Squarespace. It took about ninety minutes. And she built a blog for herself using Wordpress; that was around an hour’s labor.

I’ve had my first unoccupied vacation time in ten years this past week and immediately set about occupying it in the construction of this site. (Relaxation is a young man’s game.) In the time it took me to develop, Whitney could have created forty websites. (To save you a math, I spent fifty hours on this basic[1], buggy[2], alpha-quality product.)

So why’d I do it?

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I’m experimenting with how posts are displayed.


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Here’s a quote.

More after the link!

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